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Lakes area patent holder develops innovative garden hoe

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Kelly Wroolie was convinced he’d take a talent for trouble-shooting and a mechanical mind to craft an invention.

Now the lakes area resident has a patent to prove it.

And with Memorial Day weekend giving the traditional Minnesota assurance that frost is a thing of the past, gardeners will be putting out tender plants in hopes of bountiful vegetables or pleasant blossoms.

Wroolie’s invention is designed to reduce what has taken hours of staking and moving string to get perfectly straight rows down to minutes. It’s all in the garden hoe. After a search back to the 1800s, the U.S. Patent Office was convinced Wroolie came up with a new wrinkle on a time-honored if laborious garden hoe. He was given the go-ahead to market his Parallel Garden Hoe.

Like most inventions, this one was driven by necessity. Never a fan of setting up the garden for spring planting, Wroolie designed the Parallel Garden hoe with movable spades that can be adjusted to widths of 30 inches, 27 inches and 20 inches.

The prototype sat in an outbuilding for months, but it continued to tug at Wroolie as something that could go places.

“I had the tool, I just didn’t know where I was going with it,” Wroolie said.

With the help of his family, including his brothers Bill and Brad for patent research and website creation, it moved from concept to solid object.

Wroolie’s son Ryan said he thought it was a good idea from the beginning and recommended the patent.

“This tool here can make people who don’t like gardening like to garden,” Ryan Wroolie said.

His dad then took the prototype to the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas where it was showcased in the New Product World.

That led to a 2012 opportunity to present the idea to Kevin Harrington’s Pitch Tank. Wroolie said he had 2 minutes for his presentation and Harrington of ABC’s

“Shark Tank” told him it was a good and innovative idea, convincing him the garden tool could go places.

“It was a big learning experience,” Wroolie said.

Wroolie came back home determined to make something he could launch from the Brainerd lakes area.

“It’s a simple idea that works,” he said.

With the hoe, Wroolie quickly traced a perfectly circular pattern in the gravel driveway at his home south of Brainerd.

In the tilled black earth of the garden, Wroolie quickly marked out straight rows. He then turned the hoe parallel to the furrows and used the spades to evenly create divots for planting. The uniform rows and evenly separated planting spaces were in place quickly. Wroolie marked out a checker board, created square boxes, scored holes for planting — all within minutes.

“The blades just work like little shovels,” Wroolie said.

The Parallel Garden Hoe was manufactured in Delano. It retails for $69.99 plus shipping and handling.

Wroolie’s wife Treasa, normally plants a 28 by 38 garden by seed. Her husband, she said, is a bit of perfectionist. Wroolie said creating the hoe was easy, the next steps are harder.

“We’re just going to see what it does,” Wroolie said of the hoes, which he sells online at his website. So far orders have come in from Oklahoma to Maine.

Wroolie said he never completed high school but went to work right away. He had ambition, he said, and focus. John Franzen Stucco took a chance on him. He still works with them after 30 plus years. He’s been self-employed with a landscape and took on additional jobs.

Wroolie said he’s not afraid to go out and take the world on although his wife thinks he’s crazy sometimes.

Now he hopes it all is coming together with an invention that will take off.

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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